NewsUtah Drought


Utah lakes, reservoirs likely at peak water levels for the year

Posted at 7:52 PM, May 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 23:49:50-04

HEBER CITY, Utah — Reservoirs have taken a hit in the state of Utah because of the ongoing drought, and now with the snow melting off, many are likely at the highest level they will be for the year.

It's just before the busy season at Jordanelle State Park, and many people are setting up as the summer months kick off.

But any day, rain or shine, cold or warm you might find Hassan Marbanlo with his fishing poles.

"Less than 20 years ago, [the water level] was very high,” he said, pointing to the southeast side of the reservoir. “I'd say about good 100, 150 feet down."

Unfortunately, this is likely as high as the water level is going to get this year.

“Low water levels are top of mind," Utah State Parks spokesman Devan Chavez said. "Drought's been, you know, the word of the day for the last two years."

READ: Utah lawmakers consider a pipeline from the Pacific Ocean to the Great Salt Lake

All of the state parks are preparing for a big Memorial Day weekend and a busy summer, but the drought is top of mind.

Of the 42 boat ramps that the State Parks division operates, nine are already closed, and another three are under an advisory for low water levels.

Up-to-the-minute boat ramp conditions can be found on the Utah State Parks website.

At Jordanelle State Park, there are three ramps — but only one is functioning normally. Another is under an advisory and a third is completely closed already.

“We're already seeing multiple state parks have boat ramps that are already closed or under advisory because of these low water levels,” Chavez said, adding that it's not just one area, but bodies of water all across the state.

READ: SLC explores gifting millions of gallons of water to the Great Salt Lake

This water is all trickling in from the state's snowpack.

“This year, we anticipate that the reservoirs are going to be essentially at capacity by June 1,” said Jordan Clayton, a supervisor for the Utah Snow Survey.

They will release new numbers on the reservoirs on June 1, which will likely be the highest level all year.

“The rest of the time until next spring is runoff season," Clayton said. "It's just going to be, you know, using the water that we've got wisely to make sure we have enough."

About 95 percent of the state's water use, in general, comes from Utah's snowpack, which hasn’t had its best year — in fact, far from it.

What will fix the drought? Experts say it would come down to several years in a row of large precipitation.

“I have heard a little ugly rumor about a potential third La Nina in a row," Clayton said. "That is not good news.”

“Three, four years of... good winters, it would be really nice,” Marbanlo said. “I hope we get better.”